Apple’s iPhone has long been known for offering a great camera. These flagship smartphones are capable of some incredible photography, so much so that many modern photographers often ditch their DSLR cameras in favour of the ultra-portable iPhone.
The results are often spectacular too. To honour the efforts, the iPhone Photography Awards were born in 2007 and have been choosing award-winning photos every year since. Apple also encouraged iPhone photographers to share their best works for the Shot on iPhone Challenge.
As you can imagine, the images submitted to both these competitions are nothing short of fantastic. We’ve combed through them to bring you a collection of our favourite photos taken over the last few years. Incredible images you won’t believe were shot on a smartphone.
If you feel like you’ve got what it takes, you too could submit your photos to the iPhone Photography Awards to see if you can win an award in one of the 16 categories. The registration page of the IPPA 2021 is already open and the deadline is 31 March 2021.
Free from the past
This beautiful shot was taken in Varanasi, India on an iPhone X by Kristian Cruz from the United States.
We love the colours, the detail and everything that’s happening in the image. We aren’t surprised at all that it won first place in the travel category for the iPhone Photography Awards 2020.
Taken on Westhampton Beach, New York with an iPhone 6, this picture of a beach chair is one of our favourites from the 2020 winners of the iPhone Photography Awards.
The atmospheric image was taken by Danielle Moir from the United States and it won first place in the other category.
This fabulous image taken by Dimpy Bhalotia from the United Kingdom in Banaras, India won her the grand prize for Photographer of the Year in the iPhone Photography Awards 2020.
Bhalotia said: “I see the world in monochrome and I find art in the extraordinary details of the seemingly ordinary life on streets. I believe the universe is a piece of art and so is every soul and street.”
This image was taken on an iPhone X.
Beauty in everyday
Winning second place in the abstract category of the iPhone Photography Awards 2020 is this beautifully symmetrical shot taken in Irvine, California.
Beauty in everyday was taken on an iPhone 8 Plus by Veronica Yoo from the United States.
Winner of the first place in the nature category of the iPhone Photography Awards 2020 is this beautiful picture of a waterfall.
The picture was taken on an iPhone 7 Plus by Lisi Li from China.
Winner of the first place for photographer of the year in the iPhone Photography Awards 2020, this image shows an annoyingly unfinished but brilliant painted wall.
Taken by Artyom Baryshau from Russia in India, the image titled No walls was taken on an iPhone 6.
Now this is what we call a panoramic shot. What a beautiful photo of Meteora, Greece.
Taken by Garrine Tsang from Canada on an iPhone XS, this image titled Immersion won thord place in the panaroma category of the iPjhoen Photography Awards 2020.
Kea at Mount Luxmore
Avishai Futerman from Isreal took this beautiful image in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand on an iPhone XR.
The image won second place in the nature category of the iPhone Photography Awards 2020.
Duomo Di Milano
Shot on an iPhone X, this image of the magnificent Duomo Di Milano cathedral in Milan, Italy won first place in the architecture category of the iPhone Photography Awards 2020.
It was taken by Haiyin Lin from China.
We absolutely love this image of two beautiful pink flamingos shot on an iPhone 6S. The dark green leaves and lovely mirrored water make the animals really pop.
Winning second place in the animals category for the iPhone Photography Awards 2020, Flamingos was taken by Ji Li from China.
This image of a child sitting on a bench with cotton candy in front of their face brings a smile to ours.
Taken in Vorontsovsky Park, Moscow by Ekaterina Varzar from the United States on an iPhone 6, Cotton Candy won first place in the children category of the iPhone Photography Awards 2020.
This stunning image of the Marble Canyon in Arizona was taken by Kaiwen Jiang from China and it won first place in the landscape category of the iPhone Photography Awards 2020.
Jiang took the image on one XS Max.
Nightfall at the Dolomites
There’s nothing quite like a sunset and this photo has so much beauty to admire. Taken by Leo Chan from Hong Kong on an iPhone 11 Pro, Nightfall at the Dolomites was captured in Auronzo di Cadore, Italy.
This stunning shot won first place in the sunset category of the iPhone Photography Awards 2020.
This appropriately named, perfectly framed image was taken by Dominic Dähncke from Spain in Tenerife, Canary Islands.
The Cloud won third place in the landscape category of the iPhone Photography Awards 2020. It was taken on an iPhone 8 Plus.
Dreams in the basket
A small baby takes a casual and relaxing nap in the middle of a field in China. In the background, workers can be seen busying themselves with the daily grind. We only hope this child’s parents are nearby.
An incredible photo of life shot on an iPhone 5S. This image was chosen as the second place winner in the iPhone Photography Awards lifestyle category in 2018.
Jasper the Raptor
From the 2019 winners of the iPhone Photography Awards (children’s category) comes this image snapped using an iPhone XS. A simple photo of a small boy in a raptor mask appears to show a dinosaur child in the shadow.
The wonky one
Sometimes great photos are just a matter of perspective. Other times, they’re just fantastic snaps of weird and wonderful locations.
This shot was captured by Cocu Liu in the wonderfully sloping streets of San Fransisco. The building isn’t actually wonky, it’s the camera that is.
I want to play
Just a simple photo of boys doing what boys do best – getting muddy and having a great time. This image was shot on an iPhone 7 Plus in Yangon, Myanmar and was given third place for Photographer of the Year 2018 in the iPhone Photography Awards.
“A young boy who lost his leg was watching his friends play soccer, and he said he wanted to play soccer if he could.”
The one with the long neck
This incredibly moody, atmospheric and perfectly timed photo was snapped by Shuo Li using an iPhone 7 Plus.
This image was selected for the third place in the animal’s category in iPhone Photography Awards 2017.
“It was taken in Maasai Mara National Reserve, on October 6, 2016. It was the last safari that day, my friend and I were leaving Maasai Mara. The sky was pure blue with beautiful clouds, I noticed a giraffe was eating Kigelia Africana leaves. We drove our SUV around the giraffe, and then I found the best angle to took this photo.”
Lilly pad lake
A beautiful view of nature shot on an iPhone 6S. A lone tree stands in the centre of the frame surrounded by still waters and masses of Lilly pads.
“I took this photo in late June of 2016 while in Sigtuna, Sweden. I used my old iPhone 6s (native camera) then did some light post-processing with Snapseed, Photoshop Fix, and VSCO. This photo didn’t need too much editing at all unlike some of my others – nature did most of the work here. This was the best shot out of maybe a dozen or so captures.”
A virtual view of another planet?
We’ll be honest, we’re not sure we know what’s going on with this photo, but we love it. A man in almost full astronaut gear sits near a biodome wearing what appears to be an Oculus VR headset. Perhaps he’s experiencing a virtual view of outer space and trying to make it as convincing as possible.
A smattering of foxes
The iPhone Photography Awards 2016’s winning photograph from the animal category shows a smattering of foxes gathering around the photographer. The angle of the image almost makes it look like the snapper was stuck up a tree.
What’s going on through here?
Bruno Militelli snapped this brilliant photo of his dog on his iPhone. We love a hilarious dog photo and this one is great too. We wonder what was so interesting.
One cool cat
This guy, what a dude. We’re impressed that this snapper managed to get their cat to sit still for long enough to take a photo. Nevermind doing so while wearing accessories.
Someone is going to need a bath
The joys of parenthood and childhood summed up in one wonderfully messy photo. A small child caught on iPhone in the midst of tumbling into a mass of mud and madness.
A floral close up
This brilliant close up view of some poppies won Lone Bjørn the first place award in the iPhone Photography Awards flowers category in 2016.
Chained to the water
Xia Zhenkai captured this image in China using an iPhone. The photo then went on to win the first place prize in the iPhone Photography Awards people category in 2016.
This image by Alex Jiang was snapped on an Apple iPhone XS Max and selected as one of the winners of the shot on iPhone challenge.
Snapped in Hong Kong, Alex Jiang tweaked the colours slightly using the iOS Photos App and Snapseed, but otherwise chose the perfect location for a brilliantly posed photograph.
One of the judges, Chen Man said: “This is a photo filled with lovely colour and sense of story in the composition. Zooming in, you can see the details of each family and their unique touch. The basketball hoop is placed right in the middle of the photo, adding more stories behind the image.”
She bends with the wind
This incredible photograph by Robin Robertis was snapped and submitted to the IPP Awards in 2016. The judges were so impressed they chose him as second place winner for the Photographer of the Year category.
“I was on an iPhone workshop and reunion with a friend and teacher in Cape Cod. We all went out to photograph the perfect sunset. I tend to bring a few things when I travel, one being this wonderful red umbrella. When others shoot the sunsets and beautiful scenery, I like to photograph some human aspects in these scenes.”
This stunning snap of rolling golden fields was captured by Robert Glaser from Germany using his Apple iPhone 7. It was chosen as one of the winners of the Shot on iPhone challenge and judge Kaiann Drance said: “Gorgeous dynamic range. There’s detail throughout the photo in the meadow, trees, and clouds. Beautiful deep sky and pleasing colour overall.”
Brendan O Se snapped this close up pic of a dock worker’s dirty hands on an iPhone 6s in 2016. In 2017, the image was submitted to the IPPAwards and selected as the first place winner – seeing him crowned Photographer of the Year.
“I shot this photo on an early morning photo walk around the docks in Jakarta in April 2016. These were the hands of a dock worker who was taking a break. I was struck by the texture created by the accumulated dirt on his hands.”
San Juan National Forest
LieAdi Darmawan captured this photo using an iPhone Xs and submitted it to the Shot iPhone challenge only to be chosen as one of the winners.
He explained how it came about:
“This picture was taken from my last backpacking trip in Colorado’s San Juan National Forest. On my second evening of backpacking in the Colorado wilderness, I decided to hike up to the ridge right next to the Ulysses S. Grant Peak for a sunset shot (right after a nap that is). The Ulysses S. Grant Peak itself stands at about 13,767 ft, so I was just a few feet below that! I wasn’t sure what to expect as the temperature started to drop and the sun light started to fade. I was the only one left up there, where a few others had long descended down and left. Boy, was I glad to stay there long enough to witness the clouds and jagged peaks started to light on fire during the golden hour—it was such a spiritual experience! Descending down in the dark, equipped only by a headlamp, was not an easy task. I fell down a couple of times trudging through steep sandy terrain. I even missed my campsite by a few hundred yards. But looking back, it was all worthwhile.”
The judges of the competition were certainly impressed too and there’s no denying it’s an incredible view.
The second place award-winner of the Photographer of the Year category in the iPhone Photography Awards 2017 came from Singapore with this image captured using an Apple iPhone 6 Plus. A street performer is seen taking a brief respite from performing:
“Chines traditional street opera is part of the Chinese culture. Unfortunately, the young generation in Singapore is no longer interested. Hence the street opera is fast disappearing. Instead of shooting their performance, I decided to go the back of the stage to capture the performers’ preparation activity. I spotted this experience performer who is taking a short rest and was waiting for his turn to perform. I was attracted by the lighting of the old plastic curtain, electric fan, and the overall calm atmosphere.”
A moody view of Utah
This image by Bernard Antolin was captured on Apple iPhone Xs Max and shows a wonderfully moody view of Utah. This photographer’s images are always black and white and often stunning, we’d recommend having a look at their Instagram feed.
The judges of the shot on iPhone challenge were certainly taken by the image. Kaiann Drance said: “Looks like a simple scene but a good choice of using black and white to elevate it with a different mood. Helps to bring out the dramatic contrast in the clouds and the surrounding landscape.”
Eye to eye
Huapeng Zhao snapped this image in the YanTai ShanDong province, China using their iPhone 6. A small boy is seen holding a tiny fish to his eye. The black and white finish of this image adds a moody ambience that we love. The judges did too as this photo was selected as the second place winner for Photographer of the Year 2018 in the iPhone Photography Awards.
“I met this boy while walking at the seaside. When I was trying to take a picture of him, he put the fish he caught in front of his eye.”
Inspired by Green Book
Art director and iPhone photographer, Andrew Griswold took this photo on his iPhone XS saying he was inspired by 2018 film Green Book starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. The image was selected as one of the winners of the Shot on iPhone challenge and just Sebastien Marineau-Mes commented:
“Very unique composition and colour palette, playing to the strengths of iPhone XS. What I find most interesting is the background pattern, uniquely magnified and distorted in every one of the water droplets. I’m drawn to studying and trying to elucidate what that pattern is.”
A cheeky fox
In 2014, Michael O’Neal took this brilliant photo of a rather cheeky looking fox out in the snowy ridden landscape of San Francisco. The image was chosen as the first place winner in the animal category of the iPhone Photography Awards. It’s easy to see why as it’s fantastic.
A child in the wild
Another winner of the Shot on iPhone challenge shows Elizabeth Scarrott’s daughter surrounded by the beauty of nature. Taken in Yosemite National Park and captured on iPhone 8 Plus, this image is brilliantly posed and we love the curious look etched on the child’s face.
Judge Brooks Kraft commented: “A portrait that captures the wonderment of childhood in a beautiful setting. Great composition that shows both the personality of the child and the experience in the surroundings.”
A family day out
From the coast of South Africa comes this fantastic family photo of a man and his two children wading through the waters. A brilliant image of family life Shot on an iPhone.
iPhone photographer, Dina Alfasi from Israel captured this weirdly wonderful shot using an iPhone X. A brilliant flip of perspective that makes our head hurt but looks magnificent.
Shot on iPhone challenge judge Brooks Kraft said: “A unique perspective and a new take on the popular subject of shooting reflections. I like that the subject is evident, but you are not really sure how the photo was taken. The puddle is the shape of a heart, with nice symmetry of the subject. The depth of field that iPhone has in regular mode made this image possible, a DSLR would have had a difficult time keeping everything in focus.”
A tasty meal
We all love a great snap of a tasty meal. Foodies aren’t the only ones who snap a good meal photo and post it on Instagram. Sofija Strindlund captured this photo and submitted it to IPPAAWARDS where it was selected for third place in the food category in 2014.
A colourful view of our world
A glance at Nikita Yarosh’s Instagram profile and you’ll quickly get a sense for this photographer’s style. He snaps some brilliantly colourful and eye-catching images from astounding angles. The results are often impressive and striking too. This particular image was selected as a winner by the judges of the shot on iPhone challenge.
Judge, Luísa Dörr says “I like the simplicity of this image, the composition, light, details, everything looks good. Then you see one small line that looks wrong and makes me think what happened, where is this place, who was there. For me a good image is not only one that is strong or beautiful, but makes you think about it — and keep thinking.”
Birds in flight
A simple, yet wonderful shot of nature at its finest as birds are captured taking flight with the use of an iPhone. Some filters may have been applied, but there’s no denying the results are incredible.
The architect fan
Darren Soh is an architectural photographer with an eye for stunning buildings and interesting man-made structures. This photo shows the reflection of a housing block from Singapore that particularly appealed. Posting this image to Instagram, he said:
“Completed in 1984, the HBD public housing estate of Potong Pasir (Singapore) has several blocks with a distinct #skislope roof that have become iconic and synonymous with the town. Here is a #reflection of one of the blocks on the Basketball court of the community club that had just been washed. The bird as always, is a bonus.”
This image was also chosen as one of the winners of the Shot on iPhone challenge, with Phil Schiller saying: “A reflection that looks like a painting, two worlds have collided. You are compelled to think about where and how this photo was taken, the bird flying in the corner provides the single sign of life in an otherwise surreal composition.”
A bad day
Someone’s having a bad day. This brilliantly posed image shows a man being led away by the police with a foreboding atmosphere as bystanders look on. This photo by Gerard Collett was selected as the first place winner in 2014 for the news and events category.
A cheeky chappy
Blake Marvin snapped this image using is iPhone XS Max and submitted it to the shot on iPhone challenge, only to be chosen as one of the winners by the judges.
Phil Schiller said: “The stolen glance between this racoon/thief and photographer is priceless, we can imagine that it is saying ‘if you back away slowly no one has to get hurt.’ A nice use of black and white, the focus on the racoon and the inside of the hollow log provides an organic movement frozen in time.”
The young and the weary
A fantastic photo taken by Athena Tan that brilliant captures youth and the wisdom of age in one image. This brilliant snap was also captured on iPhone and made an incredible submission to the iPhone Photography Awards iPhone Photography Awards people category in 2014.
Shot on an iPhone X at the Burning Man festival, Chinese iPhone owner Peng Hao, look the photo during a sand storm. “I took this photo in the desert in Nevada, USA, at the Burning Man festival. I stood on a bridge and saw two people lost in a sand storm, but after a while, something very special came along, a huge silver ball.”
This sort of photo demonstrates just how brilliantly flexible smartphone cameras can be. They’re not just great at taking selfies and snaps of your lunch, they can also be used for landscape photographs, still life imagery and much more besides.
The 2019 Grand Prize Winner of the iPhone Photography Awards was Gabriella Cigliano from Italy with her picture ‘Big Sister’. Shot in Zanzibar, Tanzania on an iPhone X. Capturing that perfect moment can happen at any time, according to Cigliano, who snapped the winning shot while in Tanzania for a month teaching. “Before heading back to Italy we stopped in Zanzibar, where this photo was taken. I still wonder how could I capture that exact moment in all its beauty. I was just observing, a few meters from them, but they were probably more curious about me than I was about them, and that’s probably why the girl was looking at me. We couldn’t talk much, except for a few words in Swahili I had learned in the previous weeks, but those kids could definitely talk with their eyes. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life, and I’ll keep it in my memories forever. The best part was showing them and their mums the photos, for some it was the first time they were seeing their faces, and their excitement was unexplainable, unfortunately my iPhone was in their hands and I couldn’t capture that!”
A piercing gaze
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes, that beauty is just in their eyes. This magnificent shot shows that iPhone photographs have been incredible for years. This image by Kim Hanskamp was taken way back in 2013 and selected as the winner in the iPhone Photography Awards people category.
Sorry, no movie today
According to Yuliya Ibraeva who took “Sorry, no movie today” it was a hot summer day in Rome, Italy, even the asphalt was melting when he look this phone on his iPhone 7 Plus. “We decided to escape from the city centre to see the ancient trees of the Borghese Gardens and watch an Italian movie, but when we arrived the pouring rain began. We didn’t see the film, but I took wonderful pictures. It was great travel moment I’ll never want to forget.
Shadows and sunlight
Tomas Stankiewicz captured this breath-taking image of an empty and peaceful street using just his iPhone. Wonderful shadows and beams of light can be seen stretching forth across the paved surface ahead.
Sea Stripes was taken in Santa Rita Beach, Portugal where the striped beach tents are very typical and set the tone of the well organized and summery little villages. Playing along with this beachy mood, a bather in the distance embodies the spirit in a striped shirt. Amazingly shot on iPhone SE showing you don’t need Apple’s latest iPhone to do well, it was taken by Diogo Lage.
On a wide open country road, you’ll often see animals crossing and trying to get to safety. You won’t often see a horse darting across your path though. This iPhone photographer has managed to snap just that, as what appears to be a wild stallion dashes across the road ahead. This image was chosen as the first place winner in the iPhone Photography Awards animal’s category in 2013.
A snowy night in Moscow
This image was snapped in Russia by Konstantin Chalabov and shows a dramatic night time shot of the cold and foreboding, yet entirely beautiful landscape. The photo was selected as one of the winners of Apple’s Night mode photo challenge and it’s easy to see why.
A wonderful piece of abstract photography that shows what looks, at first glance, to be a weirdly wonderful painting of an urban landscape. These are real buildings from Poland though and a genuine photo snapped on an iPhone.
“This photo is a facade of one of the most recognizable buildings in Pozna, the former Polonez Hotel (closed, and re-opened as
a student dormitory centre). Considered very modern and luxurious in the 80’s it has fallen in disrepair in the 2000’s.”
Classic Lofoten views
Another brilliant night time shot, this time showing off the beauty of the Lofoten islands in Norway. This photograph by Rustam Shagimordanov highlights a wonderfully captivating view of the islands with small red houses backdropped by magnificent rockface.
Kaiann Drance commented on this image saying: “A captivating shot of a winter village by the sea, which must feel cold, yet looks warm with the glow against the rocks and lights inside the red cabins, inviting a story about the people inside.”
Jameh Mosque of Isfahan
A wonderfully framed view of a Mosque which shows an amazing reflection of the view ahead. This image was shot on an iPhone 7 and won second place in the iPhone Photography Awards’ architecture category in 2018.
“This one of the oldest mosques in Iran and is the result of continual construction, reconstruction, additions and renovations on the site from around 771 C.E. to the end of the 20th century.”
Night markets in Beijing
Yu “Eric” Zhang used their iPhone to capture this awesome shot of Beijing, China amidst the hustle and bustle of night time markets. The snap does a good job of highlighting the difference between shadows and the light. Even picking up bright orange trainers of a bystander.
A well-timed photo demonstrates that the newer iPhones are capable of some impressive action shots. A small boy catches some air at a skate park as his friend looks on. This photo was shot on an iPhone X at a skate park in Haifa, Israel. It was awarded second place in the children category in the iPhone Photography Awards 2018.
“Part of a series taken at Skate park. I was captivated by these young children, who spend hours, training continuously to improve and achieve greater things.”
A colourful light show
This image is from the entries into the 13th annual iPhone Photography Award awards and seems to show an endless number of lights springing inexplicably out of the ground at night. A fabulous shot.
This iPhone X photograph shows a brilliant view of the landscapes of Iceland. From this angle, the photographer Naian Feng has managed to capture a shot of a frozen volcano. The dormant volcano known as Kerid is now just a crater that’s home to a volcanic lake.
In the heart of winter, the surface of the lake freezes and plays host to tourists, though from up here it looks like the people below are enjoying a spot of ice skating.
Sari Sutton snapped this image on their iPhone X in Busan, South Korea and the judges chose it as one of the winners for the IPPAWARDS in 2019. A simple image of a building painted with sky blue colours and adorned with fluffy white clouds.